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Defining the PERFECT Educator?

One of my close friends called me last night to vent. She wanted to apply for an Instructional Coach position in a different school district a few miles from where she currently works as an elementary school teacher. Here was her problem: She read over the job application and job duties for the position and started to question herself.

There were over 28 categories of what the job would entail, along with a 29th category that said, “and other duties assigned by the Assistant Superintendent.” I wonder if #29 included 30 more potential duties.

Along with this hefty list, there was also a list of 33 (yes, 33) characteristics of the personal and professional attributes that the district was looking for to fill this Instructional Coach position. Some of the attributes included the following:

  • Must be hard working.

  • Must be positive.

  • Must be dependable.

  • Must be flexible.

  • Must be organized.

  • Must be able to get along with others.

  • Must have a track record of success as a teacher, and coach (preferred).

  • Must be willing to live in the district.

  • Must respond to needs, accordingly and appropriately.

  • Must advocate for all children.

  • Must nurture a positive school culture.

  • Must understand how to best utilize resources.

  • Must be proficient in multiple techn0logy integration platforms.

  • Must support district programs.

  • Must be available for after school programs.

  • Must be able to handle diverse situations.

  • Must coach staff to prepare students for state assessment success.

  • Must track multiple forms of data and facilitate data training.

  • Must be proficient in student management software.

  • Must have 5 years of successful teaching experience.

  • Must have a black belt in karate.

  • Must speak 13 or more languages fluently.

OK. The last two characteristics were not on the original list. I added those for effect.

See, my friend felt as if her confidence went down the drain even before filling out the on-line application. She knows that she is a good person and a good teacher and feels as if she could help other teachers in their craft, as well. But, something hit her over the head when she looked at this vast list of characteristics after already being overwhelmed at the long list of job duties. She felt like the district was looking for a perfect educator and a perfect human being.

So, why do we carry out extensive job posts, such as this? Are we looking for the perfect employee and if we say we aren’t, do we give off that perception when we post what others “must have” or “must be like” as part of the application process?

I see our identities as educators as a process of ongoing identity-in-the-making. We learn new things each day. We learn new things about people each day. We make mistakes. We experience victories. We participate in a beautiful struggle each day. We advocate for all students, but we don’t know everything about everything. And, we shouldn’t.

I invite you to look at this list in order to determine which items really call for a process of life-long-learning and experience gathering versus those things that should already be positive attributes for any educator (i.e. advocating for all students) and can be left unsaid.

By the way, my friend went ahead and applied for this position this morning. She is confident that this list was more bureaucratic than helpful, anyway. If she gets an interview, maybe she can tell them how imperfect she is. Now, THAT would be perfect.

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